tv [untitled] May 31, 2012 8:00pm-8:30pm EDT
coming up next a tour of the 1607 jamestown settlement. later, william fowler talks about christopher columbus and the discovery of the americas. >> spend a weekend in wichita, kansas with book tv and american history tv. saturday at noon eastern. literary life with book tv on cspan 2. from business and black and white. also, browse the rare book collection and sunday at 5:00 p.m. eastern on american history
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>> been going on for 18 years and what i'm going to do is to give you a little lecture in different places about properties and talk about the history of jamestown, geography and the history of the project and then we'll go to each of the sights open now, the trenches. we promised this was in the trenches, so we're going to get in the trench. at least one. well, you are on one of the few islands that you can be on along the james river. that's one of the reasons we chose it at the first colony.
the river goes into the mountains of virginia and gets different branches, but in richmond, there are waterfalls and it's not navigable from here to there and that was important because of the congress found it out, didn't know it was beginning. that sets us, gives the set iti it was put together by a man, captain bartholomew. it was a frontier, a spanish ship in the late 16th century and therefore, gave all these riches to the queen, so he was the favorite guy. and so he had the idea of establishing a colony after he knew something about the fact that there had been one already tried at roanoke island off of
north carolina. so 20 years later, he felt that there should be a permanent colony and one attempt he made, you may have hard heard of if you're from massachusetts or the new england area, that he set up, he tried to put in a colony on what we think now is elizabeth island. there's a town up there, just next to martha's vineyard. after about six weeks, the indian trading didn't work out the way he thought it would. he went back. nobody died, but he had the experience of how to navigate over in the new world. he then went back and had connections and that's the way it works.
he could get the charter that raleigh had colonized in the new world. he had the league means to do it. he had another relative, one of the richest merchants in england, so he had a way of funding an expedition. in ottly hall near ipswich in england and had a connection to another man who brought in captain john smith and they all got together and decided to try to do this colony. formed the virginia company. not the earliest modern corporation was put together. and in the late 1606, they decide to bring three ships, 105 colonists, all men, and -- well, men -- three boys. and left in late december of 1606.
well, if you may know, may 13th is where they land on jamestown island. so that's a long time, and that was a problem. and they came in here with a food deficit right away, because it took too long to get here. they were instructed to go 100 miles from the coast, so that they would be protected from any raids from spanish. and that was the real fear, although they had a treaty in 1604 where they were not supposed to be worried about them. but you can't go -- as i was saying, the falls of the river at richmond, can't go 100 miles. so the fallback was to settle on some island that was strong by nature, is what -- it's a quote. strong by nature means it's surrounded by water, so it could be protected. they also decided, and this is important, they said they chose the island too, because the channel was so close to the shore they could tie the ships. now, the channel -- that ferryboat out there is in the channel. so the conventional wisdom was
that they tie the ships there, that's where they're going to have the fort, where the fort was built. and then it washed away, and that's the story i got. when i came out here the first time in 19 -- 1963. so anyway, the 104 come in, they have a rough summer. rough is an understatement. more than half died in the first summer. and they began to realize what a difficult operation this was going to be. and how really underfunded they were. understaffed, underfunded. that sounds like most nonprofits like ours. but anyway, jamestown has never changed, i guess. so -- but they got through that. then and smith finally leaves, but when he leaves in '69, there's another period that was known as the starving time. 1609, 1610, and the name tells you what happened. there were probably own 60 people left alive out of 215
that -- in 1610. so they pack up, they leave, and so this would not be the first permanent english settlement, had not at that very moment a new supply group come in, the real resident governor, lord delaware came in with over 100 troops, and they jump-started the operation. and from that point, the colony is going to make it. okay. that's thumbnail history, the earliest years. the reason i'm sticking to the earliest years, most of what we found archaeologically dates to that period, and that seminole event has been a really important thing for our understanding what we found beneath the ground. so if you'll follow me down here, i'll show you where we started and why. a lot of people wonder. where do you start digging? is it when i first came to jamestown, i was so excited
because i just read in a footnote in a history book in ohio, where i'm from, that there was a jamestown. mostly american history, the modern american history, the part that is the european offshoot of american history, begins at plymouth. and the whole story, and we have the thanksgiving and everything. and it's reinforced every year that that's where everything begins. but there was this place in 1607, not 1620, successful attempt to plant a colony. and that's jamestown. but it failed. i mean, that's the impression you get when you read any standard history. and maybe hopefully that's changing. but so when i came out, i said, i want to walk the ground where john smith and pocahantos walked. and he said you're going get wet because it's out in the river. and i looked around, and i wasn't an archaeologist, but i looked around and i saw a cut
through the soil in the bank, not far from here, and it showed three different layers of soil. and that's important, as i'll show you how we work with that process. there was a pile of clay, you could tell it had been put in, and there was a ridge behind it of clay. under that was a dark black layer of rich dirt, the top layer said civil war, and had some civil war artifacts. then under that, the dark layer, it said colonial and had pottery sticking out. and under that is indian, and there were stone tools. i said, well, what is this black layer? i said, that looks pretty interesting. and -- we were on at that time a piece of -- it's really not part of the national park. you're on private property. this is owned by preservation virginia, which is then known as the association for the preservation of virginia. and he said, well, we've never
had a chance to really look here. he just gave me that look like hey, maybe something is here. and i said what's that. so put that in the back of my mind, became an archaeologist, started working in virginia, georgia, caribbean, other places. but i always thought, no one has really proved that that fort had washed away. on the horizon was the 400th anniversary of the settlement here. and i thought, wouldn't it be a great thing to do, is to actually find what's being commemorated, 1607, 2007. so i talked to the landowners, preservation of virginia, for ten years, actually. and tried to say, look, here's a plan, let's do this. and i said, i'm sure it's there. you know. and -- i mean, i wrote that out. we're going to find this. and so they agreed in 1993, began digging right where you're
standing, right here. now why? why here? well, the -- my theory was, because the church tower that we were standing next to is a 17th century architectural feature. and i thought, well, one of the documents said that the church was in the midst of the fort. if it that's a church, then if i dig about here, between here and that sea wall, i'll come up with a different color soil where up right palasade, triangular shape would appear. i started by myself. right here. one shovel, one wheel barrow. and i couldn't -- i mean, i couldn't hold back. i wanted to go -- i knew i had a grant, wouldn't kick in for a couple months, and get other people. so i started here. and i -- and the first day, i was digging right under the grass and i came up with a piece of pottery. and he was roped in, and this
woman was here with her son watching this guy, pretty skeptical. and she finally said to me, "what are you doing?" like those -- do people know you're out here digging in sacred properties? and i had that pottery. and i just looked at her and i was pretty manic at the time, because i knew this pottery was old enough to find james fort. and i'm going, "i'm finding james fort" and she sort of backed away with her son. come on, bobby, let's not upset the nice man. i hope she came back with him. that was '94. 1994. and here what we had done, luckily enough, was to dig in -- this place which turned out to be a filled-in cellar of a building that we have replicated above that we found pieces of, by finding where a post had been put in the ground and left a dark circle stain in the soil. and there was a cellar, and it was full of what -- we found an intact helmet.
you can see arrest more that came out of this pit that's in the exhibit before you go. please see that. and the dates of coins. all this stuff was coming out of here. and it was military enough, it was old enough. wow, this is james fort. but it took many years to connect all the dots to be able to tell where and how the fort laid out from that point. i wasn't sure if we were on the west side, the east side, inside, outside, you know, for a long time. but we went ahead and announced in 1996 that the fort -- some parts of this fort is here. as it turned out, almost 90% had escaped erosion. and so many people came over here and so many died, their possessions were just scattered and buried in things like a cellar, ditches, wells, it just -- wherever there is a hole in the ground, it got filled with some pretty amazing artifacts.
so right now the collection goes over 1.5 million objects have been found. the way it's done, you open up an area, usually on a ten-foot square, find a streak that goes through -- pal i sade lines, say okay -- and just follow these things, a square at a time. and then a big area to understand it all. and we'll see a big area when we go at the next stop. all right. let's head to the trenches. if you all would just go up on the hill, and i'll go down on the trenches here. all right. this is patrol probably the largest trench that we have ever opened up at one time. and what you're looking at is the site of a -- the 1608 church. if you are saying to yourself, what church?
these orange flags mark the giant post holes that were dug down as much as six feet or maybe eight, twelve foot between each one of these posts. so if you can begin to imagine a post coming out of these holes here, another, and each one, you can see there's a pattern to where the orange flags are located. so i knew from a description written by a man named william strachey in 1610 wrote the church is 24 feet wide and 60 feet long. so the minute we begin to find these enormous post holes and 12-foot centers, it began mathematically to add up. so we -- what we do, as i said,
we'll open an area, that is take it down to the grade that has not been disturbed. and this is it right here. and at that point look for outlines of soil that has been dug into before. and every place that that -- someone dug beneath this subsoil level, this clay, is detectible. if you have one of these. and you scrape down -- really carefully. it's hard to show up, because it's dry. but this is mixed soil right here. there's a little yellow splotches and lighter stuff and darker stuff. but on the sides, it's very uniform. that's never been dug into before. but this has. now, these purple flags mark what do you think? >> graves? >> graves. exactly right. there are four graves here that line up in extreme eastern end of this post hole pattern. and that really tells -- is the
telling evidence that said this is the church. so the important people are buried in the chancel. we know also from records, and there's a continuation -- a continual interplay of what we find in the ground with what's in the records and what's in the records, where can you find in the ground, back and forth. and we know from the time period the church stood was from 1608 to 1616, according to record, there were four people buried. four people that would have had status to be buried here that we know. there's the original cleric reverent hunt could be here. he died very close to the time when the church was put up in 1608. could be. and he could -- i would assume that he would be this guy right here. there was a knight, then two captains that died during that
time. we have a plan to actually uncover the remains and see if we can identify these people beginning next spring. i think they should be marked. i mean, the whole church was just -- the location lost. although there was a spanish spy map, and that's what this little sketch is based on, that had an x. and always thought x might mark the spot, you know. and it does. this is where the church is. just a little off center -- it's in the midst, but not exactly in the center. i had my ambition to walk where john smith and pocahontas walked. there is a post hole there and one right here. this makes a rectangular space that would be the chancel. pocahontas marries john rolf in this church in 1614. so i guarantee you i'm standing exactly a little deeper than she was. but this is where pocahontas stood when she got married. had to.
they stand right in the chancel, in the center. you've been to weddings. that's kind of, wow, you can actually do that with archaeology. now i want to get you to come down and we're going to get in the trench down there. and just we'll gather out into here. and we have danny smith here, digging away with dan smith. and he is -- you can tell them what you're doing there, danny. >> okay. if my voice can hold up. so what we're doing is difficult. we're digging into a well. and this well happens to be in the southwest corner of the church. now, it looks like that's just a coincidence, though. but we wanted to make sure that it didn't relate to the church. so thus we dig into it, see if we can find diagnostic or dateable artifacts. it's here until 1817 and it shifts to another location over there. what we've been finding are artifacts later than that date, it looks like it's coincidence.
it's a later well. i think it's going to date probably to the mid 17th century. still a 350-year-old well. what we're doing, too, we're actually widening the well. it was a wooden barrel line or cast line well, we're widening the hole five feet if diameter to we can put a steel casing in here to protect as we go down. we have what, six more feet to go? six to eight more feet. >> even though this doesn't relate to james fort. >> okay, thanks. and wells are interesting to archaeologists because we'll probably hit water in another couple feet and the well went four feet below that, and anything that's been continuously wet will survive.
organics. we'll probably find a barrel down there. one of the barrels and any organic things. leather, wood, even metal is in better shape beneath the water because it keeps the oxygen away. a lot of oxygen away. we also found seeds, plants in other wells. in fort wells, they'd be old enough. it's a treasure no matter what. we just can't resist. >> it's amazing that all this is still here to be excavated. >> it is. and nothing substitutes for being here, standing on this soil. that's what keeps us going, you know, to come to jamestown and experience it. this is 18 years of digging. we're not finished yet. there are big places inside the fort we haven't even looked at inside this one acre. so archaeologists can go on a long time. and fortunately young people on the staff will be available hopefully. it was pointed out that john
smith was located pretty interesting place, and that was the ladies of the apba in 1907 decided to put it there. he's actually right where the main entrance to the fort would have been. it's kind of eerie, you know, that there would be that decision to put that there, not knowing anything about the fort. not even -- all pretty much convinced the fort wasn't even here. if toupt just sort of come up to the rope and go around the edges where you can see down in. this is maryann richardson and don wormsley, more staff archaeologists who are working this side now. i mentioned the church was in the midst of the fort. most of the public buildings were in the midst of the fort. was a store house and that's where the armor would be kept, where the soldiers that would go
on duty would suit up. sort of a locker room for the guys. and right next to it in a blacksmith shop site that are marked by the posts we found more than two dozen sword hilts. found just as one of our most interesting visitors showed up, the queen of england. in may of 2007. she came down. walked down the stairs which are right behind you there and looked at that site. and we're finding all these arms and armor, and i was supposed to take her around one-on-one and make sure she had a reflective moment about the history of jamestown. so, i thought, well, i got to come up with something. i was pretty nervous. so, i said, we're looking at the swords and maryann was actually working on them at the time and said, well, this is the first
time that this english equipment has seen the light of day in 400 years. i thought, what if she says i would like to have them back, thank you, it still belongs to us. not really, though. anyway, and what we're doing right now, maryann and don, maybe you could tell us what you're up to. >> okay. what you're kind of looking at is the footprint for one of the post-and-ground structures that were shown over there at the other part of the site. so, we're just taking down each of these trenches and post holes looking for any kind of diagnostic artifacts that will help us -- give us a good firm date for this building and hopefully what it was used for. >> this is a good example of when it's wet you can see the color changes. >> what items have you found in here? >> let's see. we just pulled out what looks like maybe a little glass petri dish from one of the post holes. the fifth complete vessel we've found here at jamestown. always nice to find something still in tact when you're digging with little pieces.
this post hole was just kind of dropped in after they pull ed te post for this building. we're doing some research on that to see exactly what it was used for. but just a lot of little pieces of pottery. there's a piece of bone, for instance, sticking out of this wall right here. let's see, i saw a piece of -- yeah. here's a piece of lead shot from the floor. i mean, there's stuff that was just trampled in. you're welcome to, you know, pass it around. >> i'll show you a couple other sites down here. in 1610 when delaware came in, he said he cleansed the town. filled wells. i haven't mentioned the other wells. incredible collections of artifacts and they built two long row houses. we knew they were built by 1614
but we didn't know where they were, outside the fort or whatever, right in here, we're marking them 20 inches above the original evidence. the cobble. and they were built with cobble foundation. wood doesn't go into the ground. but these are buildings that were built to last and more like what was being built in england. timber, they were said to be two stories and this one had six rooms because we found three fireplaces and all the crosses marked graves that we found in here. and this dates to we think 1607, this is a 1610 building it's already being built on top of a burial. there's a record of who died in august, middle of september in 1607 there's a whole rash of these gentlemen, soldiers. there was an older man and younger man buried together. there's a record of an older man and younger man dying. so, i think we're going to be able to put some labels on all these burials.
then there was a burial of a boy, of age 14, we can tell that by the forensic development of the bone. and he had many problems, health problems, one of which was an arrow was in his leg. the arrow point is still there. he also had -- his entire jaw had abscessed and it was almost gone and a broken collarbone. those remains actually are in an exhibit at the smithsonian. have any of you heard about the written in bone exhibit at the national museum? you have? good. you ought to see that. because it's about what forensic anthropologists can learn from modern murder cases on back to the boy and one other person i mentioned earlier we'll talk again about. right over here. as we were looking for the west wall of the fort, we went out here, mathematically it seemed
like the fort was bigger than we thought. we started trenching in this area. interesting artifacts, on display at the building with the front glass wall. and we also discovered a burial out here in a strange way but we thought that it was -- we found that it was parallel, laid parallel, to what turned out to be the west wall. we dug down maybe two feet, and we found what looked like a spear laying parallel to a row of nails which was pretty clearly the coffin. took it and x-rayed it and saw that it was a decorative spear point, we were able to identify as a captain's leading staff. the captain's would be ribbons,